Copyright and Cooking

Process Post 7

Deciding that I wanted to make a blog about cooking and my experience in feeling displaced from my culture was easy for me. I knew it was was a topic that I would have endless things to say about, and something that I’ve talked about with my friends countless times. It also presented a wonderful opportunity for me to start learning how to cook foods from my culture, which is something that I’ve been wanting to do for years but have not had the appropriate motivation or opportunity. However, something that never even crossed my mind was the idea that my recipes would not be subject to copyright.

Copyright is something that I’ve been aware of in a vague sense in that I knew I could not just take the content of other people and pass it off as my own. The lines of what exactly constituted as someone else’s property though always seemed a little bit blurry to me. Is my blog content my property because I wrote it down? Does it belong to WordPress because they’re the platform on which I built this website? Or is it simply fair use, because I have not gone through steps to ensure that my work is my property?

When I read Peter Henin’s article, I was surprised to learn that recipes are not in fact subject to copyright given that they are technically just a collection of facts. While this does make sense from a purely logistical standpoint, I can’t say that I would be entirely pleased if someone ripped the recipes off my site, stuck them in a cookbook and made money off of them. Not because I want to make money off of them myself, but because these are my family’s recipes. They’re not just food, they’re bits of culture passed down from my great grandmother to my grandmother to my mother and finally to myself. They are my family’s history, and for someone to co-opt that for their own personal gain feels wrong. It’s an unlikely scenario, but one that I will have to think about more carefully from now on as I decide what I’m posting.

Works Cited

Henein, Peter. 2015. “You Say ‘Tomaydo’”, I say no copyright infringement: Recipe book not an original compilation”

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